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GHS, John Hopkins University project reduce child deaths

A joint project by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, US, has yielded great success in reducing early born deaths by 56 per cent and halved postpartum stillbirths.
The GHS said the successes were chalked out after a practice-based learning approach known as the Low-Dose, High-Frequency (LDHF), replaced traditional training to improve and maintain midwifery skills, in a project in 40 hospitals in the Upper West, Central, Western and Grater Accra Regions.
Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister of Health, at dissemination meeting of the project, which was on: “Accelerating Newborn Survival Project”, in Accra on Thursday, commended the GHS and Jhpiego for the initiative and immense contribution to Ghana’s health sector.

He said although the country progressed in some health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it failed to achieve a significant reduction in under five mortality, with 60 deaths occurring in every 1,000 live births, 68 per cent of them happened a few hours after delivery, and 48 per cent during the first months of life.

He said it was evident that cost effective interventions were required to ensure a drastic reduction in new-born and under five mortality.

He pledged the Ministry’s commitment to enhance resource allocation to health facilities and provide the required skills training for professionals, facilitate the launching of the Ghana National New-born Strategy, as well as a National Health Care Strategy, and scale up the LDHF to improve quality of care of new-borns.

Dr Eric Sarpong-Ntiamoah, an Obstetrician Gynaecologist with the GHS, in an overview of the LDHF, said the five-year project was slightly cost effective compared to the traditional form of training as it turned the previous instructional approaches on its head by holding session at the worksites of health providers, rather than requiring them to travel to distant classrooms, minimising the time providers spent away from work.

He said the approach also maximised opportunities for hands-on training and increased the number of providers trained at each facility, while building a team attitude; provided training for groups of frontline health care providers, and introduced delivery of short lessons and interactive simulations that were reinforced over time to optimise learning.

Dr Sarpong-Ntiamoah said mentoring, either face-to-face or via mobile phone messaging, and peer-led practices were two hallmark component of the LDHF approach that supported clinical decision-making and helped in establishing a culture of on-the-job learning.

He said the project was embraced by all the beneficiary health facilities, who had testified of its immense benefit in terms of enhancing the knowledge and skills of midwives safe delivery, postpartum and adherence to patients’ rights.

Dr Felix Abeyifah Bowuo, a Resident Obstetrician with the GHS, said the LDHF approach was central to Jhpiego’s Accelerating New born Survival project, which was a comprehensive effort to dramatically improve quality of care during and immediately after birth by strengthening the competence and confidence of Health providers to deliver essential and emergency procedures.

He said the LDHF- trained providers in the beneficiary hospitals attended to 67,658 births, and the reduction in early new-born deaths showed the clear value from the investments made through the programme activities.

He said if implemented sustainably across nationwide, the approach could train existing health workers more cost-efficiently than traditional off site workshops which cost 902, compared to 506 dollars per individual trained in the current approach.

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